Written by our Cape Town intern Jessica OConnell
On April 9th and 10th, The Happy Africa Foundation, with our partners at African Impact, went to Table Mountain with Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS (GAPA). The trip was much anticipated by the children, the grannies and ourselves for quite some time, and we were thrilled about the two amazing days we had! In total, we brought 159 children, 14 GAPA grannies and 3 GAPA grandpas up Table Mountain. This extramural trip was a part of our GAPA Enrichment Project, which launched at the start of 2014. The project aims to take the children involved in the GAPA after school program on educationally enriching (and fun!) outings that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience.
The children were grouped into 8 different countries, and each group had a granny and some African Impact volunteers to raise spirits and keep tabs on the children with various country chants and songs. Some past volunteers from the start of the year may remember ‘bidding’ on different countries to see their homeland represented. We started both days off in Company’s Garden, enjoying a picnic lunch, face paint and circle games and songs. We were also lucky to have a post lunch yoga class in the Garden. From Company’s Garden, our country-coordinated troops headed off to the main event – Table Mountain.
The children, grannies and grandpas, African Impact staff and volunteers piled into a couple of cable cars and we were off! Some children loved the view and the journey up, while others kept to the center of the cable car in fear of the height we were travelling to. When at the top of Table Mountain, the children participated in a program called Class in the Clouds, learning about the flora and fauna of the mountain, the environment, and the sights they could see. It was then time to explore! While walking around the top of the mountain, the children were able to see what they learned about – from amazing views to flourishing plant life, to animals. Much to the excitement of the children we saw Rock Dassies and lizards.
Before the trip, we conducted assessments with the children based off of what they would learn at Class in the Clouds. After the trip, we did a Class in the Clouds activity sheet aimed at each grade, and were able to glean how much the children learned. The Grade R’s and Grade one’s activity focused on identifying the animals and central sights of Table Mountain. The children went from 25% knowledge about their activity, to an average of 73% accuracy on their worksheet. Originally, 1 of 5 children in Grade two and three knew what a compass was, and 1 of 3 knew what it’s purpose was. After Table Mountain, almost 50% of the children assessed learned the purpose of a compass and were able discuss the location of Table Mountain and the cable cars directionally. An astounding 100% of Grade four’s assessed before the trip knew what smog was, but none were aware of the cause of smog, or why it was dangerous to the environment. When asked after the trip, 67% of children learned about the atmosphere, and the dangers of smog. Grade five’s had a 100% increase in their knowledge of Cape Town’s climate, as none were able to identify the climate as Mediterranean before the trip. Our Grade seven’s also featured a 100% increase in knowledge, learning what a food chain is and identifying what member of a food chain different animals and plants would be.
Our GAPA Enrichment Project aims to take the children and grannies from GAPA on two extramural trips per year, as an enriching educational adventure that the children may not otherwise get to experience due to financial and other restraints. Going to Table Mountain has been a large endeavor for The Happy Africa Foundation, and we would not have been able to succeed had it not been for the generosity of our donors. A massive thank you goes out to all of The Happy Africa Foundation supporters, past African Impact volunteers, and everyone else who helped make this trip a reality.